Aligning the Leadership Team within your organization is most often the key factor that determines whether your balance sheet will surge in value or hemorrhage red, and whether products and services nosedive in consumer popularity or gain market share. The Leadership Team determines whether the organization will scale, fold, or fail.
In order to achieve leadership team alignment, face-to-face sessions that follow the alignment process are vital to put together a leadership team that functions as a dynamic unit, not as suboptimal players buried in functional silos. The process of aligning team direction, strategy, and success never happens by accident or incidentally, as a byproduct of budget planning or operational meetings. Alignment comes via professional facilitation, with individuals who are skilled at the process of putting people into the same room and asking and answering the questions that lead to a uniform strategy.
Leadership Team alignment has little to do with the ability or even genius of the individual members, no matter how strong they are as company players. The CEO may have a clear vision of how the organization moves forward, but aligning the Leadership Team to achieve critical initiates requires concerted, interlocking efforts where each team member clearly understands and buys into the organizational process as a whole.
Organizational volatility means leadership is confronted every day with new, unseen, and unanticipated challenges – new product introductions, sudden obsolesce, merging organizational cultures, changes in leadership, sudden changes in technology, and more.
What is the 5-Step Alignment Process, and Why Does it Work?
The Delta Associates, Inc. unique leadership team alignment process is often the difference between success and failure in an organization.
The process begins with a group of qualified leaders that come with differing assumptions about how the organization should work. Misalignment manifests itself in a group because of individual actions that erode and block the success of the team. Everyone is going in the direction that he or she thinks is the most effective based on their individual experiences – but put together, their actions run counter to each other.
When the team is seriously out of alignment, an effective CEO most often uses the tactics and techniques of a professional career to bring the team into alignment. All too often, however, the CEO finds himself or herself so involved in managing organizational issues they can’t focus on the alignment process.
Delta Associates, Inc. works with the CEO and key leaders to develop a widely recognized system of alignment. The key points are:
1. Situational/Issue Analysis. Most often, members of the team are not actually seeing the same problem, although they think they are talking about the same thing. They’re individually applying their own solutions to issues that are not adequately defined. Delta goes through the process of establishing issues through the initial interview process, so that when everyone comes into the room, they’re seeing the same scenarios.
2. Gathering Data Through Assessments of How Team Members Function. In order for team members to to get onto the same page, we have to determine which page each member of the team is on. We do this using assessments.
1) We use the Myers-Briggs Personality Type © to create a window into how team members operate individually and as team members.
2) We use the FIRO-B assessment to establish how team members relate to teams and within them.
3) We use the Delta 360-degree assessment, customized to the organization. We do debriefs with each team member personally.
3. Analyzing Team Data. With a large body of new data about the team, we’re ready to continue the alignment process. We review the data and are now in a position to know individual team members, how they operate, and how they are perceived by others at every level of the organization. We dialogue with each other about the meaning of the data and its implications for the organization.
4. Creating the Gameplan. With the data, we are able to create an actionable gameplan of where individual team members fit into the vision of the organization. Each team member is instructed on making the necessary changes to becoming an effective member of the leadership team. In some cases, team members may be deployed to areas where they can make a more effective contribution.
5. Developing Leadership and Direction. At this point, newly aligned leadership team members have the tools to lead the organization. We often find the cost savings and revenue generation to the organization is significant and can be calculated. Yet an aligned team does not assure effective individual leadership, and that’s why we often have coaching relationships with key leaders, and we find these careers blossoming along with the organization.
5 Cases When Leadership Alignment is Critical
1. Significant changes in the Leadership Team. Significant changes in leadership dramatically change the center of gravity of the team, and are rife with changes and relationships in roles that must be defined and agreed upon.
2. Following Mission, Vision and Values, Culture. These sessions are often fraught with futility and boredom, yet nothing determines whether a team will fail as whether there is a common sense of where the organization is going and what team members believe is fundamentally important.
3. Business Model/Strategy/Market Share. A leadership team member may be doing an amazingly effective job on his or her area, but if they lack the ability to align their efforts to achieve the business strategy and grow market share, they’ll be thwarted because of their lack of alignment as a whole.
4. Critical New Initiatives that Can’t Fail. Virtually all organizations have moments in their history when they have a strategy, product or service that must not fail. In these cases, plans have been made that puts a great deal on the line, and it is critical to have alignment in place that takes everyone forward.
5. Dealing With/Utilizing Disruption. The most successful organizations get to the moment when everyone knows what to do and goes about doing it. Disruptions in the organization can occur with a market that suddenly does not respond to the the effective strategies of a few months ago, and in these moments, leadership team alignment is critical.